It started as a quest to visit all the 60+ BBQ places in the counties of Madison, Limestone, Morgan, and Lawrence in Northern Alabama (that is the Hunstville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area).
Then I got sent back to Germany and there was no BBQ. But eventually I got assigned to a new job which takes me on business trips in the USA occasionally. So I reopened the blog – just deleted the “North Alabama” from the title.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Black Jack's and Thing BBQ
Quest Log No 51 – Black Jack's and Thing BBQ Huntsville, Madison County
When a BBQ place has a somewhat
special, odd, or downright weird name, it can mean either of two things: the
owners have to hide their mediocre product behind a flashy name, or the owners
are innovative not only in the kitchen, but also with everything else. During
my travels through BBQ country, I’ve come across both varieties. There just is
no telling from the outside, you have to go in and sample the Q to determine if
the name is just icing on the cake, or it is all only smoke and mirrors.
Well, Black Jack's and Thing BBQ is
truly some weird name – and I am sure there is a great story behind it. With
that name, most people will probably imagine some kind of shack by the road
side, next to the burned down grocery and the oily car repair shop. But no, you
will find them in a small neat brick building next to a Papa John’s pizza
delivery shop, adjacent to a gym and a gas station.
Not very exciting, and the interior
is also not very electrifying. Light green walls with a few sparse decorative
items, a floor that could use a serious makeover, half a dozen or so wooden
tables with wooden chairs, and four of those rustic outdoor bench/table
combinations. In a way, this has its own weird charm, but what energy they
spent on finding a special name, they did apparently save when it came to
interior design choices.
But enough of these rather
nonessential things, let’s get to the core of the business – the food.
As usual, I had the pork plate,
with slaw and potato salad, and my wife had half a rack of ribs with green
beans and baked beans. Together with two cups of sweet tea, we paid a little
over twenty-one bucks, which is a very fair deal.
Especially if you take the quality
of the food into account.
The pork was very tender and lean,
juicy and with a remarkable smoke flavor – very top notch. And the sauce (you
have to ask for it, they only have Ketchup and some generic hot sauce on the
tables) is nothing short of spectacular. Fruity and yet spicy, without being
too hot – just perfectly balanced and very delicious. My wife thinks that there
is Curry in it, but I think it is a mixture of different peppers. Be it as it
may, I wish they would bottle that stuff and sell it to me.
The potato salad, made with sour
crème, was very fresh, but I found it a bit too neutral tasting. More salt and
pepper would have made it better, in my mind. My wife on the other hand loved
it. I found the cole slaw, made with vinegar, very exciting. It was sour,
without the slightest hint of sweetness, with just the right amount of salt and
pepper, and very crunchy and fresh.
My wife’s ribs were a lot of meat,
to begin with. Not overly fatty, but also not extremely lean, with an average
taste. The sides she had, on the other hand, blew her away. The green beans
were in her opinion the best she ever had. And the baked beans were totally
without sweetness, but came with a spicy aroma instead.
So, does this place with a weird
name serve some righteous BBQ? Yes, indeed, they do. And the little twist to
abstain from the sweet side and venture into the sour/spicy side of Q is
remarkable. As is the name.